Remember the financial resolutions you made at the beginning of the year? Now is a good time to check in to see how you’re doing. As we come to the final quarter of 2018, there are financial things to do today that will help you improve your fiscal health.
Here are 9 financial things to do today.
#1 Fall Cleaning
Like Spring, Fall is a great time to clear out all unnecessary baggage, including financial baggage.
- Itemize all your expenses, such as gym memberships, movie subscriptions, store memberships, and other subscriptions that were inspired by your New Year’s resolutions.
- Did you use them?
- Is it worth what you are paying every month?
- Are they putting too much of a strain on your budget?
This is a good time to cancel unused memberships or close automatic renewals for any monthly subscription that is not bringing you a good return on your investment.
#2 Review Your Budget
One of the most important financial things to do today is to review your budget.
- Did your income projections come true?
- How about your expenses?
- Did you have any unexpected expenses not projected in your budget? How did you cover it? Did you need financing or was it covered by your emergency fund?
- What did you spend your money on? Do you need to increase that category in your budget for the new year? Did you spend more than you thought you would dining out or going to coffee shops?
The only way to get a handle on your finances is to track your spending.
#3 Assess Your Debt Reduction Goals
How about your debt?
- Have you made progress with your debt reduction goals? Did you take on new debt?
- How was your summer spending? Did you rack up a lot of charges on your credit cards? If so, consider taking a credit card hiatus. Use only cash for your purchases for the next three months until you start holiday shopping. In fact, make a commitment to do your in-store purchases with cash. Leave the credit card at home for online purchases only.
#4 Grade Your Fiscal Responsibility
Did you pay all of your bills on time?
Did you miss any payments? Have you seen an increase in interest rates or fees due to late or skipped payments?
If you’ve been overwhelmed with work or just forgetfulness, download some fintech apps that help you remember when to pay your bills, or that will transfer money for you. You can also automate most of your bills if you are sure to have money in your bank account to cover the withdrawals.
Did you miss payments or make late payments because you could not afford them? Has it been an overwhelming year so far? You might want to apply for a debt consolidation loan now. This way you can get a head start on improving your financial health before the new year arrives.
#5 Review Your Credit Score
Among the priority financial things to do today is to find out your credit score. If you have not pulled a free credit report yet, now is the time to do it. Soon you will enter the holiday shopping season and it is imperative to know your debt utilization ratio.
Equally importantly, you need to know if you have fallen victim to identity theft. If you have kids, don’t forget to pull their credit reports too. As we wrote about previously, kids have become a favorite target of identity thieves.
#6 Start Income Tax Planning
The new tax laws are probably going to impact your taxes this year. Find out now what the changes mean for you.
- How will your IRA contributions be impacted?
- What about your 401(k)?
- Are your withholdings appropriate, or will you have to pay taxes? Even worse, are you looking at the possibility of a big tax refund? Better to adjust your withholdings and invest the money in yourself.
- Did you experience any significant changes this year, i.e. divorce, marriage, children, home purchase, etc? Anyone of these might be a reason to revise your W-4.
This is a good time to schedule a meeting with your tax preparer or accountant to help you assess what tax-related tasks you should undertake now.
#7 Max Out Your Retirement Savings
What progress have you made with your retirement savings goals? How close are you to maxing out on your annual contributions to your 401(k)? If you are way behind, make retirement savings a priority now, and start putting all of your extra money there.
What about your IRA? Does it make sense to convert to a Roth IRA?
#8 Check the Status of Your Emergency Fund
No list of financial things to do today would be complete without including your emergency fund. Don’t have an emergency fund? Start one now. Life’s hiccups come at the most inconvenient times.
Ideally, your emergency fund should be equal to six months of your expenses. Do you have this much saved? If you cannot invest this amount of money in your emergency fund, start today to put as much as possible aside for emergencies. Set up direct deposits to take the temptation away.
You have done your budget review and tracked your spending. Did you find areas where you were wasting money? Take that money and put it in your emergency fund.
What is the Balance in Your Healthcare Plan?
Did you open a health savings account? Have you used it? Among the financial things to do today is to schedule appointments to take care of those small medical procedures that you have put off until now.